GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Is heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield going to put a knockout punch to the future of the Kats in Nashville?
The hot rumor around here the past couple of days was that Holyfield, who lives in the Atlanta area, was prepared to buy the team and move it to the Peach State.
Mark Bloom, Kats president and co-owner, vehemently denied the rumor.
"I asked if Mike Tyson was buying it too," Bloom said. "I thought maybe we could have rematch at the arena."
Bloom reiterated that the only discussions he has had concerning the team's future have been with Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams.
"Nothing is going to happen until myself and Bud sit down and figure out what the best course for Arena Football is in Nashville," Bloom said. "That is the way it has been for last several months and that is still the way it is. I don't think it is going to shake out for the next 30 days."
POSTSEASON AWARDS: Nashville Kats coach Pat Sperduto was not selected as coach of the year, a shocker for many people. That honor went to Grand Rapids coach Michael Trigg. The Rampage did make the biggest turnaround of any team in the league but no coach was forced to juggle personnel due to injuries like Sperduto.
Lineman James Baron was the big winner for the Kats getting the "Lineman of the Year" Award and "HERO" Award for his work with the YMCA. He was named to the All-Arena first team along with wide receiver-defensive back Jarrick Hillery. Fullbback-linebacker Rupert Grant was named second team. Fullback-linebacker Travis Reece was named to the All-Rookie team.
GRUDEN BACK AS PLAYER: Orlando coach Jay Gruden, a former offensive coordinator for the Nashville Kats, has announced he will be returning to the league next year as a quarterback for the Predators. Gruden has not played in an Arena game since 1995 and is the same age as Kats quarterback Andy Kelly. The Predators struggled this year at quarterback and failed to make the playoffs after winning ArenaBowl XIV last year over Nashville.
Gruden was named this week, along with Mike Pawlawski and Kurt Warner, to the 15th anniversary All-Time AFL team.
Gruden bacame the head coach in Orlando in 1998 after spending the 1997 season in Nashville. As a player Gruden's team won 68 of 85 games.
DOLEZEL TO NFL? Grand Rapids quarterback Clint Dolezel, who has been compared favorably to Kurt Warner, who made the jump from the Iowa Barnstormers to the St. Louis Rams and a Super Bowl title. Dolezel claims he has had serious talks with a couple of teams. He refused to name either team, but added that he plans to start talking contract terms this week.
QUICK PASSES: Want to know just how tough the Arena League's Southern Division is? A Southern Division team has been in the ArenaBowl for the past four years and 10 of the past 11 years...Nashville recording artist Andy Griggs performed the National Anthem...Three NFL Hall of Famers attended the game. Jack Youngblood works as a consultant for the Arena League. Lynn Swann provided sideline reports for ABC-TV. John Elway, who will own a new franchise in Denver in 2003, watched the game. His team is expected to be called the Stampede and will share the colors of the Denver Broncos of the NFL. The Denver Dynamite was the first Arena team in the city. Former Vanderbilt quarterback Whit Taylor guided them to a 45-16 victory in the first ArenaBowl over the now defunct Pittsburgh Gladiators...Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones; Ed Policy, son of Cleveland Browns president Carmen Policy; and Carl Peterson, Kansas City Chiefs general manager also watched the game in sold out Van Andel Arena.